BC Tech Summit luring big data, VR keynote speakers

Jigsaw CEO Jared Cohen and Two Bit Circus CEO Brent Bushnell to headline province’s largest tech event

 Canada’s Digital Technology Supercluster aims to boost collaborations in everything from VR/AR to natural resources | Photo: Chung Chow, BIV
Vienna Ly, a BCIT multimedia developer, demonstrates VR anatomy software at the 2017 BC Tech Summit | Chung Chow, BIV 

The BC Tech Summit is turning its attention to big data and virtual reality as it preps for its third-annual event.

Organizers have booked Jigsaw CEO Jared Cohen and Two Bit Circus CEO Brent Bushnell for two separate keynote addresses during the province’s largest gathering for the tech sector, running May 14-16, 2018.

Cohen's company is an incubator within Alphabet Inc., the parent company of Google, that aims to use technology to make people safer from cyber threats, censorship and extremism.

B.C. Innovation Council president and CEO Carl Anderson, whose organization is facilitating the B.C. Tech Summit, said Cohen will be breaking down how big data can make a difference in the world and how it’s applicable to a company’s business operations.

“Everybody’s being buried under data,” Anderson said.

“But how do you use it so that you actually win?”

Meanwhile, Bushnell’s Two Bit Circus bills itself as "a band of mad scientists, roboticists, visual artists and storytellers" with expertise in virtual reality.

Brent Bushnell is the son of Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari Inc. and Chuck E. Cheese's, and Two Bit Circus develops products and events that combine physical and digital entertainment.

Anderson said organizers were looking for a keynote speaker who could appeal to both the tech professionals at the summit as well as the 2,000 students expected to attend.

“[Brent Bushnell] has an amazing way of talking about his story of growing up with games and then incorporating the technology and building a business base with adults interacting in their environment,” Anderson said.

The BC Tech Summit is expected to draw more than 150 speakers and 260 exhibitors.

“Our biggest complaint to date is: too much to see,” Anderson said.